Bring AT&T LTE compatible handsets to StraightTalk.

straight talk lte sim card 4g somegadgetguyThe prepaid phone market is getting really hot. As consumers shop various plans and services, prepaid solutions might be just the ticket for some shoppers. This has historically meant having a “last generation” experience, using a 3G service while the big boys trotted out real 4G LTE data. This is starting to change however, as AT&T has rolled out AIO nationwide utilizing their LTE network, and now StraightTalk is getting into the game too.

Starting now, you can bring an AT&T compatible LTE phone to StraightTalk and utilize LTE access. It will require a new SIM card to activate, but it looks like plan pricing will remain the same as their previous Faux G offerings, unlimited plans starting at $45 a month. Now while ST offers unlimited data, it’s been reported that heavy users will be throttled, but considering the price of this service, that’s not horribly surprising. Might still want to read up on those terms of service before porting your number over.

If you’re buying a new phone, and you’re not able to bring your own from another carrier, the two handsets current sold through StraightTalk which support LTE are the Galaxy S3 and the iPhone 5. Neither particularly exciting in this current market, but if you’re shopping a new phone plan, prepaid might be something worth checking out.

(via StraightTalk)

Zagg Ahead of the Curve with new Accessories for iPhone 5S & 5C

zagg accessories iphone 5c 5s somegadgetguyI wonder if accessory manufacturers will continue to consider Apple a “safe bet”. The iPhone 5 is only getting a one year run, and the 5S will probably only get a one year run. You used to be able to count on at least two, if not three years of sales for a new model of iPhone.

Anywho, Zagg is getting out ahead of the curve by announcing their new line up of iPhone accessories for the 5S and 5C. A lot of their announced line up are universal products like iFrogz headphones and Zaggsparq portable batteries, but their terrific InvisibleSHIELD screen protectors are ready to go, and we’ll see a pair of case options. The iFrogz Chemistry is a slim cushioned bumper featuring bright colors and designs, and the Zagg Arsenal will be one of the slimmest rugged cases available for the iPhone 5S.

Full PR after the jump!

Continue reading “Zagg Ahead of the Curve with new Accessories for iPhone 5S & 5C”

Apple Officially unveils iPhone 5S & 5C. Available September 20th.

iPhone5c_34L_AllColors_PRINT“In the past, when we’ve launched a new iPhone, we lowered the cost of the old iPhone, making it more accessible to new people. But this year, we’re not going to do that.” – Tim Cook

Yes, they’re officially official! The iPhone 5S will reign as the new premier handset and the iPhone 5C will replace the iPhone 5 as a mid range offering. The iPhone 4S will remain as a “free on contract” option for frugal buyers.

The iPhone 5C is largely an iPhone 5 in a candy colored polycarb plastic shell. Inspired by phones like the Nokia Lumia, Apple is releasing the iPhone 5C in green, white, blue, pink, and yellow. Pricing will be very reasonable, coming in at $99 for a 16GB version and $199 for the 32GB model. This is a smart play by Apple, as it provides a much needed mid-range which wont be as expensive as the uni-body aluminum iPhone to produce. This should also help open up some Asian and African developing markets where consumers might not be interested in paying the Apple premium for the 5S.

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The iPhone 5S will retain the aluminium shell of its predecessor, meaning in the wild it will be difficult to see whether someone is carrying the latest and greatest. In part to address that, the color options for the 5S have changed. Silver remains, but instead of Black, the 5S  will come in “Space Grey”. This may also be a response to complaints that the black iPhone was easily scratched. Also, for those wanting a bit more bling, a Gold version will also be available. I would expect this to be the top seller for this generation of iPhone, as even I can be guilty of wanting other people around me to know I have a bleeding edge phone. And yes. I did just say “bling”.

iphone 5s camera rear goldWhile the 5S wont be visually much different than the iPhone 5, it is packing new equipment under the hood to improve the iOS experience. A new camera is on board, marking the first improvement in two generations of iPhone. The resolution remains the same at 8 megapixels, but the new sensor is larger allowing more light to hit individual photo sites. When paired with a new f2.2 aperture lens, this should improve low light capabilities. The new camera app will also be capable of shooting continuous 10 frame per second stills. A new slow-motion video mode is also included which can shoot at 120 frames per second to catch all those great sports and pet moments in delicious slow motion detail.

A new processor is on board. The Apple claims the A7 is up to twice as powerful as the A6, though details regarding actual performance are thin. Interestingly enough, the new A7 is a 64-bit chip. I can’t really understand why Apple made this jump now, as the move to 64-bit on desktops was to facilitate more than 4GB of RAM (which the iPhone does not have). This could perhaps be a preemptive move towards unifying OSX on the desktop and iOS on mobile devices? We’ll just have to wait and see…

The new chipset does feature improved graphics processing thanks to OpenGL ES 3.0. Apple showed off a preview of Infinity Blade 3 which demonstrated dynamic lighting, improved texture mapping, and larger playable areas.

For those active smartphone users, the 5S packs a new sensor co-processor dubbed the M7. It’s a small mini-brain responsible for driving and collecting all of the data from the various sensors, gyros, accelerometers, and the compass. This is a cool piece of tech, as all that info can be collected and sorted by apps without the new A7 processor turning on. This should help battery life, and open new doors for tracking and location apps with the new M7 API.

Speaking of power, Apple claims 10 hours of LTE browsing, 40 hours of music listening, and 250 hours of standby time. No word yet on whether the battery can sustain real world use through dinner time…

iphone 5s touch id home button fingerprint sensor somegadgetguyLastly, for those a bit more security conscious, Touch ID was introduced, which builds a capacitive fingerprint scanner into the Home button on the 5S. Apple demo’ed the feature, which should make unlocking an iPhone near invisible to the person who owns the iPhone, just by tapping the Home Button. This should be of interest to corporate and government IT departments which have to force smartphone users into using alphanumeric passwords which can sometimes be difficult to enter on a touchscreen display.

iPhone 5s will follow in the footsteps of previous iPhones launching at $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for a 64GB version. The iOS7 update goes live September 18, and iPhone pre-orders start September 13. The phones will be available for purchase September 20 in the US, Australia, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and China. That last is very important for Cupertino, as this will be the first time an iPhone will include the Chinese market at launch, and offering that mid-range iPhone 5C could help open up Asian markets which haven’t warmed to Apple’s mobile offerings in the past.

Watch the keynote at Apple.com. Full Press Releases after the jump! Continue reading “Apple Officially unveils iPhone 5S & 5C. Available September 20th.”

Apple stock drops 12 points following iPhone 5S & 5C announcement.

apple stock down following iphone 5s and 5c announcement somegadgetguyDamn stock market. I haven’t even finished writing up what was announced at the Apple event today, and you guys already jumped into some trading.

It would seem investors weren’t impressed by the new offerings on display from Cupertino. Following the unveiling of the worst kept secrets in tech, Apple’s stock is currently down 12 points, trading at around 494 a share. Not a great position for this company to be in as the last several product announcements from Apple have been viewed with some cynicism. Apparently a revised iPhone 5 and a new plastic mid-range iPhone wasn’t what the market was hoping for to drum up some excitement.

From a business perspective I’m a little surprised that adding China to the list of countries receiving the iPhone at launch wasn’t met with more celebration. China will be a huge potential market for Apple, and those people concerned with the profitability of iOS should be optimistic that we’ll see increased revenue from these Asian markets.

Video samples from the Nokia Lumia 1020 – The best camera on a phone today.

nokia lumia 1020 pureview camera test video samples somegadgetguyNo joke. Nokia nailed it.

The Lumia 1020’s monster 41 megapixel PureView sensor is an absolute beast. Even when the output is scaled down to 1080p video, you just wont find a phone camera as capable of delivering the kinds of photographic output you’ll receive from this Lumia. Plus it has the first digital zoom which is actually worth using! It’s a whole new tier above what we would normally consider “premier” smartphone optics.

Yet with all of the accolades I can throw at this phone, no camera is perfect. Let’s go hands on with some video samples!

Watch my first impressions of the Lumia 1020.

Real Person Video Review: Tom Costello chats about his Nokia Lumia 521

nokia lumia 521 review hands on somegadgetguy smartphoneMy friend Tom Costello is a working actor in LA, and he was kind enough to sit down with me to chat about his experiences using his Nokia Lumia 520.

I hope to continue this as a semi-regular series on how real people (not tech bloggers) incorporate tech into their daily lives. You can catch our first Real Person Review of Marie talking about her Galaxy S4.

We had a few teething pains with Google Hangouts getting the interview started, but it settled down once we got to talking.

I really want to thank Tom for sharing his experiences, and to keep track of his projects, please check out his IMDB profile: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1843641/

IFA 2013: Sony Xperia Z1 Android phone with 20.7MP camera and 5″ HD screen

xperia-Z1-hero-black-somegadgetguy smartphone androidSony has its work cut out for itself in scratching out a niche in the Android ecosystem. They’ve been releasing quality hardware, and their fan base, while small, is passionate. With the announcement of the Z1, they’re hoping to give the Galaxies and Ones a run for their (customer’s) money.

The Xperia Z1 sports a five inch 1080p “Triluminous” LCD utilizing the same color tech found in Sony’s TV lineup. Under the hood you’ll find a Qualcomm 800 quad-core CPU paired up with 2GB of RAM which should handily outperform the GS4 and HTC One. 16GB of onboard storage is lean these days, but you do have access to an SD card slot to expand. A non-removeable 3000mAh battery should perform decently, but we haven’t seen many real world battery tests of the Qualcomm 800, so the increased battery capacity might get eaten by the more powerful internals.

The camera is a huge 20.7MP job with a 27mm wide angle lens (good for group shots and landscapes) and a fast f2.0 sperture for low light sensitivity. The image sensor is the same size as those found in most point and shoot cameras. Hopefully that combo works out, as there’s no mention of image stabilization on board, and 20 blurry megapixels are no fun.  If you pull the shot off however, Sony is including software to aid in sharing to your family and friends and favorite social networks.

xperia-Z1-gallery-03-1240x840-7d3dbfe4986436b7f56e2252c3114236Also of note, while not a rugged device, it will feature enhanced water resistance like that found on the original Xperia Z. So you folks who drop your phone in fluids (I don’t want to know what you drop your phone in, please don’t tell me) will have a little extra piece of mind that your handset might actually survive a two year contract.

the Z1 will ship with Android 4.2.2 alongside Sony’s custom skin and widgets, and availability is set for “later this month” No word yet on pricing and availability, but it will come in black, white, and purple, so that’s cool.

All the rest of the details on the Sony site.

Samsung shows off Galaxy Note 3, Galaxy Gear, and Note 10.1 2014 Edition

unpacked building note 3Thankfully this follow up Unpacked event was far more mature than what we saw for the Galaxy S4. None of that musical theatre train wreck, this time around Samsung largely let their new devices speak for themselves. Simple and straight forward.

As expected, we saw the official unveiling of the Galaxy Note 3, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, and I was surprised to see a main stage announcement for the updated Note 10.1 2014 edition.

Galaxy Note 3

16 air commandThe Note 3 looks like it’s going to be another powerhouse phablet. A 5.7″ full HD (1080p) screen backed up by 3GB of RAM. CPU’s will change based on region a quad core in LTE areas (likely the Qualcomm 800) and Samsung’s Octa-Core in 3G zones. A new camera module is on board featuring improvements to lighting and image stabilization, but no mentions of proper hardware optical image stabilization were to be found. Video is going  to get a huge shot in the arm however as the Note 3 will support 60FPS 1080p video recording -OR- 4K video for Ultra HD playback on supported 4K TV’s and monitors.

17 action menuThe Note 3 will be sporting a Category 4 LTE radio giving it access to most LTE networks around the world. A nice touch for people who travel a lot (watch those roaming data rates).

S-Pen is getting spruced up, now with even more ability to control actions and shortcuts on the phone. Smart Command can pop up almost anywhere on the screen to provide quick access to shortcuts. S-note is getting a face lift with more gesture support and a cleaner interface plus support for Evernote. Almost any content can be “Circled” to save in personal Scrapbooks, later to be retrieved via S-Finder universal search. Drawing a box allows users to customize the size of widgets which float on top of the app currently being used. For example, you need a calculator on screen, you draw how big that calculator should be so you can still see info on the rest of the screen.

 

20 multi-windowMulti-Window support is improved for better multi-tasking, and users can even open multiple instances of the same app, say for instance you’d like to have two chat windows open at the same time.

 

Note 3 will come in three different leather clad back pates, black, white, and pink, and designers are working on numerous color and texture options for further customization. The Window Flip Cover accessory from the GS4 returns with an even larger window to support alerts on the screen when the screen is technically off.

14 back coverThose of you worried about corporate solutions, Samsung Knox security software will now be rolling out worldwide.

Samsung is shooting for worldwide availability by September 25th. An ambitious release schedule. Pricing info to come shortly as carriers jump on the press circuit.

Galaxy Gear

29 gearSammy proudly showed off their smartwatch, ending all the rumors on what kind of tech we might see on board. a 1.6″ touchscreen AMOLED display will be paired with an 800MHz CPU and a host of sensors, gyros, mics, speakers, and a camera. Movement tracking will allow Gear to help you sort work out and fitness info, and gestures can be utilized. Answering a phone call happens by holding your hand up to the side of your head. That seems funny, until you see that the mic and speaker are built into the watchband. Not exactly handsfree, but easier to support than holding a Note 3 up to the side of your face, and less “crazy person talking to no one” looking than some of the smaller bluetooth headsets.

25 answerA 13MP camera is built into the strap as well, allowing Gear owners to snap pics and vids directly from the wrist. Lining up shots might be tricky holding your arm out sideways, but it’s nice to have an easily accessible camera which can shoot quickly from simple gestures. Custom apps are already available. to take advantage of the smaller screen, and it interacts with Samsung handsets, specifically the Note 2 & 3, the Galaxy Note 10.1, and the Galaxy S4. Smart relay will auto transfer what you see on the Gear screen simply by picking up a paired device. Plus Sammy is claiming 25 hour run time on the watch for all day and all night activity.

Expect a price of $299 when it’s released to the world, also shooting for a September 25th release.

Galaxy Note 10.1 – 2014 Edition

28 note 10Less time was spent on the Note 10 during the press event. Most of the new tech included in Note 10.1 was detailed during the presentation of the Note 3. Happily we are seeing a refresh on the screen. Now sporting a 2560×1600 resolution display, similar to the one found on the Nexus 10, this absolutely shames the 1280×800 screen on the last generation Note. The new Note 10.1 will have an 8MP rear camera (no word on 4K video so that’s probably not included), and the same CPU split will happen with LTE variants likely receiving Qualcomm’s 800 series CPU. I would expect WiFi and 3G variants to sport Sammy’ s Octa-core Exynos.

Huge news from Sammy today, and if you were holding off buying a new premier phone or tablet, Samsung totally justified your cautious shopping decision.

Click here to watch the Unpacked event.